Marilyn Zelwian
1938 - 2021
Marilyn Zelwian

Greenfield, MA — Marilyn Zelwian, age 83, of Greenfield, MA, passed away Sunday, September 26, 2021 at the Buckley Healthcare Center in Greenfield.

Marilyn Zelwian was born Marilyn Louise Hickok on July 14, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. She attended St. Patrick Grammar School and Bishop McDonnell High School. She then studied design and art history at Parsons School of Design and New York City Community College. With Ford Foundation grants, she continued her art education at the prestigious Art Students League in New York, where she took courses in pastel and oil painting, printmaking, portraiture, and anatomy.

In 1961, she married Eugene David Alexander and they had two beloved children, Christine and John, before divorcing. In 1971, she married Henry Zelwian, an artist and teacher in Brooklyn. Marilyn's family grew to include her stepson Eric, daughter-in-law Joya, and son-in-law Darryl.

Marilyn worked as a passport agent at the New York Supreme Court in New York City, where she also coordinated the annual employees' art exhibit. In 1989, Marilyn and Henry came to Shelburne Falls, where they intended to paint and relax for three months. They fell in love with the area and never returned to New York.

In 1990, Marilyn and Henry became regulars at the Shelburne Falls Senior Center, where they taught art classes. They also became drivers for Meals on Wheels. After the death of her husband in 2006, Marilyn moved to Greenfield Acres, where she served as President of the High Risers Club for a few years, and where she continued to teach painting.

Painting landscapes, flowers, and seascapes was Marilyn's life. She found beauty in local landscapes, such as the Green River, and in the sunrises and changing light in Greenfield and the surrounding hills, as seen from her wonderful corner apartment.

Over the years, Marilyn's paintings have entered private collections in the United States and abroad. They have also been exhibited in New York City at the National Arts Club of Gramercy Park, the Fulton Art Show, Sterling School, and locally at the Arts Council of Franklin County, the Greenfield Senior Center, Peoples United Bank, Artspace, the Greenfield and Shelburne Falls libraries, the Art Bank, Gallery Dix, Artisan's Co-op Gallery, and the Greenfield and Erving Senior Centers. Her painting of the John W. Olver Transit Center in Greenfield hangs in the Center itself.

Marilyn was very happy to be living in Greenfield at Greenfield Acres. She enjoyed the security, convenience, and camaraderie, and she loved to help others experience the joy of painting.

In addition to her children, Marilyn is survived by sisters Jeanne Godfrey and her husband Leonard, Kathy Beach and her husband Lee, and brother Bill Hickok and his wife Madge, as well as many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to

The Art Students League of New York, Attention Elizabeth Kingman, 215 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019. The scholarship funds will assist many students in need at the League and help them advance their artistic careers. There will be a memorial celebration next Spring to honor the life of our beloved mother, sister, aunt and friend, who will be greatly missed.

Published by The Recorder on Oct. 8, 2021.
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5 Entries
Marilyn was such a good friend to my mother-in-law Polly, as well as our daughter and really, all of us. Kindness and good cheer were her trademarks. We had dinner together at Polly's just before covid and so enjoyed hearing her thoughts and comments. And her laugh! I was looking forward to having her come over to our house for dinner, and am so sorry that we missed that opportunity. I will always remember Marilyn with love and appreciation.
marie bartlett
October 15, 2021
Marilyn (and Henry, in his time) was a great neighbor and friend to my parents. After Marilyn moved to Greenfield, Mom enjoyed picking her up and driving the back roads of Franklin County together. I remember that after we painted our big red barn Marilyn was disappointed because it wasn't as interesting artistically as it had been when it was faded and peeling. We miss her.
Sam Bartlett
October 9, 2021
Marilyn was the loveliest of women- gracious, kind, generous, loyal- and she had a wonderfully delightful sense of humor. Our deepest condolences to her beloved family and numerous friends. We will miss her.
October 9, 2021
I am so sad to hear this news. Marilyn taught me to paint with watercolors when she lived in Shelburne Falls, next door to my grandparents. I loved the kind of neighbors she and my grandparents were too each other, and I loved that she and my Nana stayed close friends after Marilyn moved to Greenfield. Mostly I painted flowers with Marilyn, from the gorgeous planters of pansies, geraniums, and others that she kept growing through the summer. I was around 10 when I painted with her the most. She was an incredibly warm, patient, generous and joyful teacher and friend. We were painting solely for the fun of it, but with tips about shading and shapes and colors thrown in along the way. I continue to dabble in painting today, and I always think of Marilyn when I do. I'm so grateful to have had Marilyn in my life and I wish she were with us still.
Jeannie Bartlett
October 9, 2021
I know Marilyn from Greenfield Acres. Her amazing personality and artistic talents captivated me and I was often late to my next job for stopping to speak with her. She was beautiful to look at and listen to. I'm quite sure everyone will miss her. Sending love and peace as you grieve her loss.
Ellen Villani
October 9, 2021
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